Dow Jones Industrial Average Stumbles as Rate-Hike Talk Resurfaces

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by Josh Selway

Published on Aug 16, 2016 at 12:11 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is trading lower at midday, as stocks pull back from record highs amid the most recent round of Fed chatter and economic news. New York Fed President William Dudley put Wall Street on notice this morning -- a day before the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes are due -- saying a September rate hike "is possible," while the consumer price index (CPI) was flat for July. Housing starts and industrial production, however, topped expectations, while Dow stock Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD) lifted its full-year forecast amid strength in the housing market. Still, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) have followed the Dow's bearish lead, as the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) eyes its best close in almost two weeks. 

Continue reading for more on today's market -- and don't miss:

Midday Market Stats August 16

Among the stocks with unusual options volume today is Dow stock Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). Put players are active yet again, continuing the trend seen in recent weeks, with the options trading at a stunning 11 times normal levels. Most of the activity has taken place at the August 119, 120, and 121 puts, with traders seemingly betting on a drop in JNJ shares before the contracts expire at Friday's close. JNJ was last seen 1.1% lower at $121.02. 

One of the top performers on the New York Stock Exchange today is paper manufacturer International Paper Co (NYSE:IP). The stock is up 2.1% at $47.28 -- within striking distance of an annual high -- bringing its year-to-date lead to 25.4%. Last month, we highlighted IP's bullish prospects, and the stock has since grinded higher. A round of upgrades could fuel further upside, as the majority of analysts still rate IP a "hold" or "strong sell."

Daily Chart of IP August 16

Over on the Nasdaq, food specialist Hain Celestial Group Inc (NASDAQ:HAIN) remains one of the biggest losers today. Not only did the company delay its earnings report on accounting issues, but it warned profit and revenue won't meet prior forecasts. HAIN was last seen 28.7% lower at $38.07, falling back into negative year-to-date territory. 

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 0.6 point, or 4.9%, at 12.39. 

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.31, with puts outpacing calls. The SPY has given back 0.7 point, or 0.3%, at $218.42. 

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